Hawke's Bay Regional Council is voting today on whether to push back new minimum river flows, to ease pressure on water users in Central Hawke's Bay.

Currently in the upper part of the Tukituki River, if the water is flow is less than 1900 litres per second, water users have to restrict their takes. This will change to 2300 litres per second or lower.

Under Plan Change 6, the flow levels were set to increase this year, putting more pressure on water users. However, after a request from the Tukituki Taskforce, this may be pushed back to 2020.

At a recent meeting of the Regional Planning Committee, CHB Mayor Alex Walker said pushing the new limits back was about looking at long-term, rather than short-term solutions.


She said in the last 12 months, the CHB community had undertaken a lot of work looking at how to be resilient around water for example investigating water infrastructure at Ongaonga and Tikokino and the surface water conservation plan.

"If you are familiar with the catchment plan you will know that it is the surface water consent holders who really bear the brunt of the timing of these river low flows.

"They will have increased ban times through the summer seasons to try and maintain river flows.

"They have come up with a phased plan of how they can conserve water by sharing volumes, sharing timing, rationing and smoothing out of water takes over the summer period."

Council is voting today on the Regional Planning Committee's recommendation to initiate the preliminary plan change process. The council will be voting whether or not to confirm these recommendations at their meeting today.